Baltimore Orioles: Baseball gamesmanship


After the Orioles’ game was over last night I flipped my TV over to MASN2 to see the end of the game between the Washington Nationals and Tampa Rays. It looked like I flipped it over just in time, as there was controversy brewing in our nation’s capital. We all know what happened by now; Washington manager Davey Johnson asked home plate umpire Tim Tschida to check incoming Tampa reliever Joel Peralta’s glove for a foreign substance. Tschida definitely found something (later identified as pine tar); the glove was confiscated and taken into the umpire’s room, and Peralta was ejected. Both managers had their say after the game, but it was obvious that Tampa skipper Joe Maddon was not happy with the series of events. He didn’t argue that pine tar was on the glove, however he said that he felt it was “bush league” of the Nationals to call Peralta out on it.

Well this is a hurky-jerky slippery slope, isn’t it?! I see both sides here…to a point. Let’s start with Tampa’s perspective; as most people might be aware, I do believe in enforcing unwritten codes in baseball. Joel Peralta played for the Nationals in 2010, so all of this means that a Nationals’ player ratted him out. Let me be frank here: I have no respect for a weasel. I suppose what I’m saying is that this applies to the Jose Canseco rule in that there are certain things that go on in a locker room that should stay there. Davey Johnson himself all but confirmed this fact in his press conference; I believe his line was “…well he [Peralta] used to play here.”

HOWEVER, I don’t blame Davey Johnson for asking the umpire to check. While he has a weasel in his clubhouse, he heard about something that was happening on the part of the other side. At that point he owed it to his team and to the Nationals’ fans to say something. In fairness, Tampa Manager Joe Maddon didn’t try to deflect questions regarding the situation after the game. He freely admitted that there was pine tar in Peralta’s glove, and when asked if that fact surprised him he responded by saying “I didn’t say that.” Regardless of who ratted who out, what Peralta was doing was wrong and against the rules. Therefore I do wholeheartedly support Davey Johnson for calling the situation into question.

There are a couple of other avenues by which to attack this situation. First off, the rat in the Nationals’ clubhouse (whomever he is) knew about Peralta’s tactics because Peralta played in Washington in 2010 (before Davey Johnson was the manager). Therefore by relaying this information he’s also admitting that there has been cheating in the Nationals’ midst in the past. Joe Maddon also said (after the game) something to the effect of if you’re going to throw stones be sure that your own house is in order. Maddon also said that whomever the rat in the Washington clubhouse was showed poor sportsmanship. I’m not sure I agree with that, given that Peralta was in fact cheating. It seems to me that cheating is poor sportsmanship no matter how you look at it.

However I do understand what Maddon meant by that. (Furthermore, even if I disagree with the argument I do admire how he sticks up for his players.) He’s referring back to the original act of someone ratting a guy out. It’s one thing for a player to go to another team and for guys to give pointers here and there on that guy’s tendencies on the field and so forth. However when it comes to something along these lines, there are probably guys in the clubhouse doing the same thing, if not worse things. It happens all over the place and all across the league. So yes, whomever ratted out Joel Peralta broke an unwritten code of ethics amongst players and coaches. And I do agree with Maddon in that teams around the league might not take kindly to the Nationals for exposing this. Again by admitting that he knew this, that guy is admitting that it’s gone in within the Nationals in the past. Do the Nats really want other teams questioning their ethics on a daily basis?

While I see both sides here, I think I do side a bit more with the Nationals. Ultimately the guy was cheating and there’s very little defense to that. However again, I don’t blame Johnson for questioning the validity of the glove but I do blame the weasel who blabbed it. I suppose what I’m saying is that there’s a right and a wrong way to go about doing things. Using pine tar in your glove is definitely the wrong way (and Peralta deserves whatever discipline he receives). However ratting someone out is also the wrong way to go about doing things. Whoever that guy is will now have to live with himself, and when/if his identity is ever discovered he might have to live with a bit more than himself in that in-game discipline might come his way.

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